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Review: Dusky - 'Outer'

Updated on October 14, 2016

Comprised of Londoners Alfie Granger-Howell and Nick Harriman, electronic music outfit Dusky release their second album, ’Outer’. The new record features guest artists Wiley, Gary Numan, Solomon Grey and Pedestrian.

The album’s introductory third dynamically shows off what the boys can do, standout ‘Runny Nose’ is definitely animated. However, the songs could’ve been conceived by a number of hard-working electro acts.

On the whole, they’re not as interesting as the tunes that follow and fall from recollection relatively quickly - at worse, they sound interchangeable.

The better moments on ‘Outer’ album correspond with the album’s title and artwork - they have an out-of-this-world quality.

While the back-end of the tracklist offers several healing, super-soulful, post-club efforts, ‘Outer’ is crowned by the exalted, large-scale and transcendent singles ‘Long Wait’ and ‘Ingrid Is A Hybrid’.

The album’s best bits feel precise, clever and ever so clean - they impact meticulously.

Several fans have posted comments on Dusky’s YouTube page requesting the boys release the instrumental-only version of ‘Sort It Out Sharon’, instead of the original, which features London’s grime godfather Wiley.

And it’s true ‘Sort It Out Sharon’ doesn’t necessarily need Wiley on it because the instrumental indeed works on its own.

Still, as the emcee spits about his elevated position in grime music and the trials involved in getting there over the tune’s darkly dystopian, clattered beatwork and hefty, razor-sharp sub-sounds - he definitely enhances things.

At the very least, Wiley’s appearance demonstrates the rapper's fearlessness and ongoing desire for a musical challenge.

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Featuring vocals from another London-based duo named Solomon Grey, ‘Long Wait’ is play-box of differing musical elements intelligently thrown together.

The irrefutable shimmy within the cut’s bass-line and its snappy, robotic loops merge seamlessly with Solomon Grey’s longing tones.

Enhanced by humbled, breaky beats and layers of lush vocals from record label Dama Dama’s co-founder Pedestrian, ‘Spruce’ gradually unwraps itself.

As Pedestrian’s mournful falsetto is drizzled generously across the nocturnal, ghostly track, it intensifies the cut’s tranquil, warm-room-on-a-cold-night aura.

‘Marble’ works the same, gentle, calming agenda as ’Spruce’ - chilled is a complete understatement here.

As ambient elements weave in and around the song’s piano work, its fragile lyrics and vocals are outshone by the vibey, deeply romantic texture of the track.

Its vocals are lonesome - but not lonely - the track doesn’t get gloomy or sombre.

Admittedly, listeners in a more pumped up mood will probably find the album’s later, lo-fi cuts sappy. However, for relaxation purposes, after a long, hard day, this kind of Dusky balladry is absolutely undeniable.

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Similar to no-holds-barred banger ‘Runny Nose’, ‘Songs Of Phase’ is a welcome dose of unabashed, quick-to-land club music.

Geniality is dispatched in favour of ravenous beats, predatory synths and overtly sexual vocal samples. Dusky don’t go wild with it all though - the dance tune sustains a pulsating steadiness.

‘Swansea’ features the unmistakable singing of pioneering electro musician Gary Numan.

Anchored by calculated, thumping beats, the track’s instrumental feels distinctly mechanical.

The track plays by the same rules and develops in ways that are similar to the LP’s more candlelit offerings, however, it doesn’t have the emotional pull they do and so it can’t leave the same lasting impression.

Decorated with dramatic, multi-coloured vocal samples, the much-lauded ‘Ingrid Is A Hybrid’ is an boundless electro tune that impacts in degrees.

The track becomes more ambitious, and more large-scale as it progresses.

Euphoric, yet nuanced string pads add an additional layer to the song and propel ‘Ingrid Is A Hybrid’ into another dimension - the cut’s masterly execution is undoubtably its success.

Verdict:*******7/10

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